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The software that’s helping take the weight off NASA’s Orion crew vehicle

News International-French

3 Oct 2014

Collier Research Corporation highlights a key software program used to lightweight the heat shield of NASA’s Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle.

NASA’s Orion team utilized information gathered from HyperSizer analyses to inform discussions that led to a 23 percent reduction of the final weight of the baseline design, which means hundreds of pounds of unnecessary weight were eliminated. The un-crewed test flight of the vehicle, Exploration Flight Test-1, is currently slated for December 2014. The final HyperSizer-designed heat shield will be used on later, manned flights.

For those interested in learning more about this project, James Ainsworth, aerospace stress engineer at Collier Research, will present a paper that will give an in-depth look at the design and analysis process, as well as the analytical methods used to perform trade studies of the Orion heat shield carrier structure.

HyperSizer, the first-ever software commercialized out of NASA, provides stress analysis and sizing optimization for reducing the weight of aircraft, wind turbine blades and other structures in addition to space vehicles—whether designed with composite or metallic materials. A typical HyperSizer analysis produces weight savings of between 25 and 40 percent.

“We’ve developed a software program for flight certification in the zero-tolerance environment of NASA,” says Craig Collier, president and founder of Collier Research Corporation. “We’ve continued to increase HyperSizer’s speed and robustness, while reducing necessary user input and creating a more flexible and open platform. This makes it ideal for small teams of engineers that need to guarantee the repeatability of results before production, and ensures they can do so in a short amount of time.”

About Collier Research Corporation:
What began at NASA 20 years ago has continuously developed into today’s HyperSizer suite of structural software solutions. As Collier Research Corporation’s flagship product, HyperSizer performs design, stress analysis, and detail sizing optimization for aircraft and space launch vehicles fabricated with composite or traditional metallic materials. On average, the software reduces the weight of structures by 20-40%, an exceptional achievement for aerostructures. HyperSizer replaces the need for spreadsheets and “hand calculations” with automatically generated stress reports for FAA certification. HyperSizer customers are able to produce results faster and more accurately, giving them an edge over competitors.

Collier Research Corporation provides software solutions, methods research, and consulting services for the aerospace, wind energy, high speed rail, automotive, and shipbuilding industries with its broad range of structural capabilities.